Monthly Archives: November 2012

(Comm)unity doesn’t mean monopoly

During my run the other night I got to thinking about a new building being constructed on New Scotland Avenue.  I think the previous building on this particular lot was affiliated with a house of worship, and this new construction is a church, I believe. What strikes me each time I run by, is the lack of a BBL or Columbia Development sign.  This building is identified as a Bunkoff project, a name refreshingly unfamiliar to me.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I have no personal beef with either BBL or Columbia, but I am so weary of seeing their names on so very many of the building projects in this city, our city.  There must be other outfits out there capable and prepared to add to the landscape of New York State’s capital city, right?

It seems to me like Albany has been on the cusp of “happening” for decades.  The individual pieces grow tantalizingly close to falling in place, but something prevents them from locking firmly together.  Could it be the city’s leadership?  Is it possible that the mayor and his preferred business associates have been so busy taking care of each other that they’ve neglected to take care of anyone else?

A few years ago, federal funds came into my neighborhood and sparked a renaissance.  Streets and sidewalks were improved, lighting was added, and independent businesses started to find a home in the Delaware Avenue south area.   Individuals  invested their time and resources and together are forging an identity for our little piece of Albany.  Christ, I made up a word for it and it stuck – DelSo, my home.

Imagine if more citizens and neighborhoods start doing this?  What if other residents start taking ownership of their blocks?   If folks began saying that it isn’t okay for one builder or developer to “own” the opportunity to create the landscape we all share?  Maybe those established contractors could take on the task of mentoring some of the smaller outfits as they strive to get in on the action?   I know, I know, I’m an evil socialist or something, right?  That might be the case, but what definitely is true is that there needs to be a greater distribution of the opportunities presented by sharing a city of nearly 100,000 people.  It’s time for something new, folks.  Please share your thoughts.



Filed under Albany, Delaware Avenue, DelSo, Local, musings, Observations, politics, Rants

Thanksgiving 2012 – iPhone Photo Highlights


Boy on a train, reflected.


Watery Hudson


Uncle Sam sprang a leak!


Times Square from the west.


ESB lit for Thanksgiving.


Mom + boy = love


Maybe it is just that simple…


Rocco’s. We went for 1/2 price coconut custard pie – divine!


The Scream @MOMA. Awesome opportunity to see it in NYC.

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Filed under beauty, Boys, Events, favorites, holidays, NYC, travel

When Thanksgiving became Independence Day

Many years ago,  pre-children, I remember discussing the merits of instructing children to cross only at the green vs. teaching them how to jaywalk intelligently.  Their father and I agreed that the latter was the ideal and vowed to do exactly that when we eventually had a family.  I thought about this conversation during my recent trip to NYC with the boys, and am pleased to report that we have accomplished this goal – the Lilly boys have grown to be adept at forging their own way with a wonderful balance of confidence and caution.  Let me elaborate…

During our Chinese Thanksgiving dinner, I received a phone call from the parent of one of my 13 y/o’s friends.  She was calling to invite Griffin to join them for that night’s Jets/Patriots game at the Meadowlands.  (The Patriots are Griffin’s favorite team.)  I explained that we were in NYC without a car, and that I needed a few minutes to look into the transportation options and consult with his dad for approval.  A quick search revealed a direct bus from the Port Authority to the Meadowlands, and with no protest from the paternal side of things, it seemed doable.  I checked in with Griffin to measure his comfort level with traveling solo on a bus to NJ and he assured me he was fine.  We made the call to confirm that he could meet his friend and Griffin added yet another item to the lengthy list of things for which to be thankful.

So, I walked him to the very same  bus station that was my point of arrival for numerous NYC adventures when I was a teenager 30+ years ago.  We got him set up with his ticket, found our way to the necessary gate and I put him on a bus bound for the best football game he could imagine.  As the bus pulled away, I quickly considered all the terrible things that could happen to him, things I won’t honor by noting them in writing here.  After about 20 seconds of that train of tragic thoughts, I thought about how if something horrible happened, I would be vilified as the mother who placed her 13 y/o on a bus to travel from one unfamiliar place to another.  I rejected that thought, too.  I knew that I wouldn’t always be able to tell him where he could go and what he could do, all I could do was try to prepare him to live his life, fully.  He would be making these sorts of decisions and arrangements independently in no time, and experiences such as this exact one would provide him with the confidence to determine the strength of  his capabilities.

Well, he was fine.  He found his friends, watched his Pats stomp beat the home team and made it back to the Port Authority at approximately the same time I often was caught running to catch the last bus north to Greenwood Lake after a show at the Garden.  He and I walked back to our hotel at a pace much more  leisurely than that desperate-to-catch-a-bus-home speed I recalled from my teens.  We may even have jaywalked.

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Filed under aging, Boys, Events, holidays, musings, NYC, Observations, travel


I started writing a post the other day about all the gifts with which I have been blessed.  I ran out of time and inspiration and figured it was just going to end up an incompleted draft.  I was fine with that – it certainly wouldn’t be alone in the “Notes” folder on my iPad.

On Thanksgiving morning, the boys and I went to NYC on the 7:05 train. The morning was a bit arduous.  I slept a little later than I would have liked and the boys were not moving with a detectable sense of urgency.  It was stressful to wrangle them, getting in 3 showers and 4 bagels and 2 sliced oranges and 1 cup of coffee for the road, but we did it.  Once my butt hit the seat on Amtrak, I exhaled and committed to enjoying the day.

When we arrived in Manhattan we walked to our hotel in Chelsea from Penn Station,  ditched our luggage and then spent the next 5 hours walking.  We walked uptown to see some of the parade and then continued to Times Square and over to 10th Avenue.  We went down the west side to the High Line to Houston to SoHo to Chinatown, where we feasted on Peking Duck, scallion pancakes and soup dumplings.

After our untraditional Thanksgiving meal, we walked to Little Italy for cannoli and cookies and then finally, with bellies full, we caught a cab back to 28th Street.  We kicked our shoes off and turned on the Dallas game, just like any other Thanksgiving Day, and I revisited that piece of writing begun a day earlier.  I immediately was struck by the realization that each one of the characteristics I recognized in myself were also present in my boys.

  • Love – for one another and family, for the adventure of travel, for good food
  • Independence – watching my boys walk with comfortable confidence in NYC fills my heart with satisfaction*
  • Patience – the boys indulge my lack of a distinct plan with the knowledge that the payoff will be worth the effort.
  • Curiosity – our walk was filled with questions, about different neighborhoods and particular buildings, NYC events and history
  • Physical strength – these boys of mine easily walked 75 blocks without (much) complaint, pretty impressive.

Photo by Quinn Lilly

I am truly thankful for the fabulous Lilly boys.

*More on this theme in a future post – all I can say is “Wow!”


Filed under Boys, Events, family, favorites, holidays, NYC, travel

The Cheese Traveler’s Grand Opening Extravaganza!

That is one tasty address!

There was nothing I didn’t like during my brief visit at my neighborhood’s newest destination – The Cheese Traveler.  The joint was jumping with a literal crowd of people – awesome!  I saw a number of familiar faces; including newly elected Assembly Representative, Pat Fahy, and independent business owners Nick and Britin from All Good Bakers and Pete and Dora* from Fin – your fishmonger and Jose from Mingle.   The individual players are each fabulous but what is most impressive to me, is the cooperative spirit shared by each of these conscientious entrepreneurs. I was thrilled by the excitement and commitment I saw displayed by all involved in this most successful afternoon, and I believe that what I witnessed was a new way of doing business.  Or perhaps, a return to a time prior to corporate greed and the exploitation of the producer in favor of pure profit.  Maybe that was just my own impression but look at this…

Sharing parking? Outrageous(ly wonderful)!

Here’s what isn’t open to subjectivity – the place was packed.  Here’s some evidence:

I picked up a slice of gorgeous gorgonzola dolce to share with someone special, always a good plan when you’re eating something delightfully funky, I think.  I also scored a jar of spicy bourbon brined pickles for one of my favorite bourbon aficionados.

If you see Leigh there, it must be good!

I didn’t indulge in any of the prepared food which was being served, initially because the line was formidable, but ultimately because I had an avocado at home waiting to be made into burritos.  I don’t like wasting food and that avocado needed to be enjoyed.  I did have a taste of an incredible Gruyère that I’ve got my eye on for my next visit, (shop local!),  when I imagine I’ll also be picking up Cheese Traveler gift cards for some of those on my holiday list.

*Dora – It was super to see you after waaay too many years!  Can’t wait to come to Guilderland for your Grand Opening!


Filed under Albany, Delaware Avenue, DelSo, Events, favorites, Food, Local, Recommendations, Uncategorized

(As American as) Apple Pie!

There’s something about a frosty morning that inspires me to turn my oven on and get busy roasting and baking.  An apple pie seems the perfect quick project to accomplish three tasks – warm up a cool kitchen, fragrance a cozy home and use up the last of those damn apples now that my box of citrus is filling my fruit crisper.

I really am not much of a baker because I have a tendency to wing it, something that can result in disaster when it comes to baking.  Pie, though?  Please! Pie is a crust or two and some filling – easy, peasy as the phrase goes.  I peeled 7 apples and  sliced them and then tossed them in a bowl with maybe 1/2 cup of sugar, 1/3 cup of brown sugar, a couple of tablespoons of flour (this helps the juices tighten up) and a bit of cinnamon and ground ginger.  (Confession: I use pre-made pie crusts.  Sorry, but I’m just not into making pie crust and my family isn’t discerning enough to complain.)  I unrolled a crust into my favorite deep pie dish, loaded it with my apple mixture and topped it with a second crust.  My crimping skills leave much to be desired, but here’s how it looked before hitting the oven for 50 minutes at 375 degrees:

I intended to take a picture of the finished product, but when you live with teenagers it is a challenge to photograph baked goods before they’ve been compromised by ravenous boys.  The photo below is the best I could do.

It’s fruit and milk, right?

I’d like to publicly thank Griffin for indulging me by making that serving of pie a la mode the second course of his Sunday morning breakfast all for the sake of my Delso readers.  What a guy!


Filed under baking, Boys, breakfast, Food, Recipes

Red Cross benefit to assist victims of Superstorm Sandy

Steve Barnes’ lovely opening course

I was fortunate enough to have an opportunity to shoot a TU SEEN gallery this week at  Yono’s Restaurant in downtown Albany.  I think you know about my love for the Purnomo family, as well as my sincere admiration for all the good work they do for our community, and this event was a fine example of how they inspire the restaurant industry to so generously give to those in need.  My intent with these photos was to capture the army that works behind those swinging doors, and I only wish I had more pictures of the kitchen professionals who came together to provide a memorable meal for an excellent cause.  If you have any experience inside a kitchen, you know two things – 1. taking photos is challenging in the tight space and intense action of a kitchen in full swing and 2. chefs enjoy working behind the scenes, not necessarily in front of a camera (Food Network folks, aside.)

It was a special night and I was happy to be able to witness the benevolence of our Albany community.  Check out Steve Barnes’ post about the night –  his starter course was killer!

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Filed under Albany, Dinner, Eating, Events, Food, Restaurants, SEEN